Did Man-Made Global Warming Cause the Joplin Tornado?

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Joplin tragedy

Environmentalist Bill McKibben all but says yes in a clever op/ed today in the Washington Post

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week's shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn't mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events.

McKibben goes on to cite other recent weather disasters as evidence of the dangers that a warming world poses. An interesting feature about disasters is that they get reported, but when things go pretty much as normal, they don't. However, this understandable focus on disaster can mislead us. We have to be careful not to see what we want to see rather than what is actually there. So what about the tornadoes? The AFP reports:

"This year is an extraordinary outlier," said Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's () National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. …

Brooks said the contemporary US tornado record, which dates back to 1950, "can be a difficult thing to work with."

But when scientists examine the most complete records available and adjust for changes in how tornadoes were reported over time, "we see no correlation between global or US national temperature and tornado occurrence," Brooks said.

Nor are the storms themselves getting larger than they used to be, even though it may seem so after learning of massive twisters like the one in Missouri that tore apart a six-mile (10 kilometer) long, half-mile deep stretch of land.

"Tornado deaths require two things. You have to have the tornado and you have to have people in the right or the wrong place," Brooks said. …

The tornado record does not show a steadily increasing trend toward bigger deadlier storms, he said. For instance, "2009 was a really low year for tornadoes. Some recent years have been big, some recent years have been small," he said.

Since modern records on tornadoes began, the deadliest outbreak was on April 3, 1974. The "Super Outbreak" claimed 310 lives when 148 tornadoes over a 24-hour period swept across 13 states.

The single deadliest tornado in US history, described in early accounts, killed 695 people when a massive twister tore up parts of Missouri, southern Illinois and southwestern Indiana in 1925.

Humans are pattern-seeking animals and we often tend to see what we want to see. That's where data—as opposed to speculation—comes in.

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  1. There’s not a bit difference between a Bill McKibben and a Harold Camping.

    1. I’ll say this much about Camping: at least he isn’t a Marxist meat puppet like McKibble.

  2. IT WAS MANBEARPIG! GUYS I’M SUPER CEREAL!!!

  3. Just to be on the safe side, we should shutdown 75% of the modern industrial complex in North America (not anywhere else – that would be CRAZY).

    1. But no oil to poor countries. Because third world countries having access to electricity would make sense. Can’t have that now, can we?

      1. and even THEN, average global temperatures might (might!) only decrease a fraction of a degree!

  4. Well people like McKibben have never stopped themselves from altering the facts to fit the theory rather than the theory to fit the facts so why think they’ll stop now?

  5. “Humans are pattern-seeking animals and we often tend to see what we want to see…”

    … and invent the religion of environmentalism accordingly.

    1. Humans are pattern-seeking animals

      Well, when we see a “pattern” of, say, cancer cases (a “cluster”) we think it’s unusual, but it would be far, far more unusual (impossible, actually) to find cancer cases evenly distributed on a grid. Given the randomness of population densities, “clusters” are inevitable, yet we (“we” being the gullible, ignorant and superstitious) “find” one, and blame human action in all its manifestations for the “outbreak” of cancer in any given community. Fear and ignorance, coupled with a political agenda, can easily trump common sense. It happens every day.

      1. “No, you hayseed. It’s arrogance not ‘ignorance.'”

  6. So, let me get this straight. Every active storm season in the history of this planet was and is attributable to anthropogenic global warming, because that’s the only possible cause of an above-average number of severe storms.

    I assume he’ll be either positing a Young Earth theory or a time-traveling component to AGW to explain how severe storms occurred prior to the advent of a technological mankind.

    This is one area where strong-AGW advocates and some skeptics go wrong in the same way–one season’s weather in one part of the world isn’t evidence of anything by itself.

    1. In layman’s terms, though, a warmer planet should mean more moisture in the atmosphere.

      Moisture in the atmosphere is what we lay people call “weather”.

      It’s counter-intuitive, which doesn’t mean it’s false, of course, but it does mean that there should be an interesting unanswered question there at least…

      If more moisture in the atmosphere doesn’t cause more severe weather, why is that?

      1. It’s not that lots of this sort of thing wouldn’t be evidence, but we’ve had some relatively unsevere periods in recent years. Show me proof. Make valid predictions. You know, do science.

        This is getting to be like string theory. Everybody supports it because that’s where the funding is. If not always the evidence.

        I’m perfectly willing to be convinced that AGW is the principal driver of any observed warming trends. But that’s not yet proven, and jokers making ridiculous claims don’t help.

      2. The way you weave an elegant tapestry from disparate threads of ignorance and arrogance is downright masterful. Unfortunately it has the same effect on me as chocolate milk carefully mixed with orange juice.

        1. The way you weave an elegant tapestry from disparate threads of ignorance and arrogance is downright masterful. Unfortunately it has the same effect on me as chocolate milk carefully mixed with orange juice.

          :::claps slowly:::

      3. Moisture in the atmosphere is what we lay people call “weather”.

        If so, you lay people are pretty dumb. There are plenty of hot humid sunny days in the summer and plenty of blizzards occur on days with rock-bottom levels of humidity.

      4. From what I have read, what causes “severe weather” is a difference in air temperatures and that, over all, warming will reduce the amount of it.

    2. Humans are pattern-seeking animals and we often tend to see what we want to see. That’s where data — as opposed to speculation — comes in.

      Hey, back off. Bill McKibben isn’t a pattern seeker, he’s a pattern finder!

    3. This is one area where strong-AGW advocates and some skeptics go wrong in the same way–one season’s weather in one part of the world isn’t evidence of anything by itself.

      If it supports the narrative, it was caused by global warming climate change.

      If it contradicts it, it is just weather,not climate.

    4. I wonder what McKibben was saying about the unusually cold weather this past winter? That one cold winter is not a refutation of AGW?

      1. AGW is now Climate Change. Your terminology is no longer allowed.

      2. No, that extra cold winter is undeniable proof of the existence of AGW. Keep up!

  7. “The single deadliest tornado in US history, described in early accounts, killed 695 people when a massive twister tore up parts of Missouri, southern Illinois and southwestern Indiana in 1925.”

    I always love when knobs in the media go on and on about death tolls. They never bring proportion to the report maybe by claiming something like “if this storm would of occurred 40 years ago, hardly anyone would have been killed because this was all undeveloped farmland then” or another one might be “boy, this storm sure was terrible, but if that storm from 1925 would occur now, there would be thousands killed because of all the development that has occurred in this area in the last 85 years.”

    1. That kind of analysis wouldn’t fit their agenda. Bill McKibben probably already had that op/ed written years ago just waiting for a big weather event to happen so he could fill in the details.

      1. Global warming i also probalby responsible for cancer deaths. Many more people have died form cancer in the last 20 years than in the 20 years before that. Also, ingrown toenails.

        1. AGW -> Bad Weather -> Obesity -> Diabetes -> Death

          Now, where’s my funding.

        2. NO! NO! NO! It’s smoking! Smoking cigarettes causes global warming and much more destructive tornados. The increased cancer deaths are just a side effect of the tornados.

    2. This is similar to the “record” destruction caused by hurricanes – with destruction measured in terms of the dollar values of the properties destroyed, measured at inflated 2006-7 property values (that is when the alleged “record-setting” storms occurred), sitting on land that had been undeveloped a few decades earlier.

      1. see it just proves another liberal point; that there are too many humans. If we reduced our numbers then these tornados could roam around unfettered by human intervention

        1. let’s start with libertardians.

          1. Go find one first, Max.

            Hint: They don’t exist.

  8. It hilarious that when we have record cold/snow in winter, as we have the past couple of years, greenies yell climate != weather!!!1!!one!!1!”, yet when we have heat or violent storms, it’s “TEH Global Warming OMG!!!!11!one”

    1. + a whole big bunch!

  9. It hilarious that when we have record cold/snow in winter, as we have the past couple of years, greenies yell climate != weather!!!1!!one!!1!”, yet when we have heat or violent storms, it’s “TEH Global Warming OMG!!!!11!one”

    1. Everything is evidence of their theories, dude. EVERYTHING. Don’t you understand now why they can’t be wrong?

      1. AGW + Interstate commerce = It’s a cookbook!

    2. Any variation from the mean is taken to be proof of global warming as if the earth had perfectly stable weather until evil mand made co2 came along.

      1. Below Average
        Above Normal

        I can grasp the idea behind “average” even if the sample size is minuscule within the larger context of weather and it’s activities (rainfall, temps, etc).

        But what the fuck is “normal” in context of either weather or climate?

        They just make this shit up as they go along.

    3. That’s not even the worst. The worst is when they show Antarctic glaciers breaking up in February…and emphasize this is happening in February! showing that global warming is accelerating at breakneck pace.

      1. The fucking icepack in Washington isn’t breaking up and it’s practically June. What does that mean?

        Oh wait, that link was from 2007, this spring’s even colder!!!11!!one!!

        I could sure use some global warming.

  10. Some years have to be above normal don’t they? And what about the super outbreak that happened back in the 1920s?

    1. Thanks John, that is what I was thinking.

    2. the 1920s? that was like over a hundred years ago, and they didn’t even speak English back then.

      1. That was back when the Vikings were running North America, right?

    3. That was caused by Calvin Coolidge.

  11. “Take in the ass, bitch. Yeah, take it, you fucking whore. FUCK YOU! NO, FUCK YOU! NO! FUCK YOU!”

  12. Meanwhile, the solar system’s largest hurricane continues to rage on Jupiter…

    1. Let’s send Bill to watch it in person.

      1. Can’t we just discover a new, deadly virus, name it after McKibble, and give it to him as a present? He likes presents.

  13. Humans are pattern-seeking animals and we often tend to see what we want to see.

    Funny, didn’t Matt Welch and Michael Shermer discuss this earlier today?

    It’s a CONSPIRACY!!!11!!

    1. Dear Lord, I think you’re on to something.

      1. The newsletter will be out shortly…

        1. Need any help running the mimeograph?

    2. That must be why I think Warty is attractive and Sugarfree is funny.

      1. That’s the Stockholm syndrome talking, dude.

  14. Environmentalist Bill McKibben all but says yes in a clever unthinking and self-indulgentop/ed today in the Washington Post:

    FIFY

    1. Reality likes it in the ass. She just doesn’t know it yet.

  15. This kind of thing is always good for a laugh, the pathetic way the global warming cultists latch onto any “unusual” (as defined by them) event as “proof”. Because hey, if it seems wrong, that’s proof enough, right?

  16. Does anyone claim that human activity diminishes “climate change”?

    1. dont axe dat quesion

  17. Did Man-Made Global Warming Cause the Joplin Tornado?

    Of course! I’ve been warning about deadly tornados spawned by climate change ever since that big tornada, Katrina, took out New Orleans.

  18. According to McKibben, everything is caused by global warming:

    February 14, 2010
    Washington’s snowstorms, brought to you by global warming

    August 18, 2010
    Why has extreme weather failed to heat up climate debate?

    1. A theory that explains everything, explains nothing.

    2. When I pull out of Reality’s ass, I like to gaze at the creampie for 3 to 4 minutes.

  19. …and here all along I figured that global warming was due to the all that hot air spewed by Wayne Allan Root.

  20. Balko only posted about isolated incidents.

  21. BHO is visiting Joplin tomorrow. Wonder if he will call it “shovel-ready”?

    1. I really hate how presidents always go and visit disasters like this. I can’t imagine that a presidential visit, with all of the security and rigmarole that involves, could do anything but hinder recovery and cleanup efforts.
      It’s basically a campaign event and he should damn well be spending his own money on such things.

      1. I agree completely. How about a nice card and maybe a speech asking people to send money? All while sitting in the Oval Office?

        1. Every president knows that he cannot please all the people all the time. He also knows that he must try, and that he has no choice in the matter. I blame us.

          1. I continue to blame Bush

    2. Browser Hijack Obama?

  22. Well, supposing that there is anthropogenic global warming, then all weather is, in some sense, caused by global warming. Weather is a complex system and in such systems, there is no single cause of any event. Every part of the system contributes to every event. Too many people are hung up on the simplistic version of cause and effect, which never happens outside of carefully controlled experiments. In the real world, everything causes everything else.

    1. Shit, wasn’t done.
      My brother (Elijah is his grandson) was on the phone with Sasha (the mother of the baby in the background) when the tornado hit. 60 seconds later he was hauling as on his way from Rogers, AR though the back-roads to get to the house. He told me he hit some cars and drove through a bunch of yards.

      I worked on that hospital with my dad during summers when I was going to law school.

      1. Wow. Wow. Holy mackerel, that is almost unfathomable.

        I’m assuming you might’ve seen this video from a group of people hunkered in a Joplin building when the tornado touched down. Terrifying. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQnvxJZucds#t=1m45s

    2. Ye gods.

    3. Holy shit. Glad that they’re OK.

  23. Does anyone claim that human activity diminishes “climate change”?

    I have heard one science-type dude (some famous old beardo whose name I can’t remember) say that a great intensification in sinful human doings since the ’70s is what put off the millennial ice age we were all supposed to be dead in right now?but! we’ve sinned too hard, and so now we’re all going to a red hot place where blind and ignorant souls hath wrought yon smite upon the blessed garden of repent-ye-etc.

    I LIVE BY THE RIVER

    1. I LIVE. IN A VAN. DOWN, BY, THE RIVER

      ftfy

      1. Down by the river
        I shot my babeee!

  24. Religious people suggesting that terrible cataclysms are a punishment against society for failing to fall in line with their prescribed code of conduct? How original!

  25. When massive cold fronts blew through during the winter, and we had some record lows, the global warming crowd rushed to tell us that climate =/= weather.

    Now that some bad weather has happened, all of a sudden weather is proof of climate?

    1. God damn it, Jim, THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED! Don’t you know that? I’m a doctor, not a partisan hack!

    2. Repeat after me…

      Below average
      Above normal

    3. You’re both right…how foolish I’ve been. I’ll resign from the state LP and hook up with the Sierra Club, or whatever douchebag organization is present in my area.

      1. You’ll have to join US first.

  26. It is obvious that speculation about the origins of violent storms is the cause of violent storms.

  27. I’m sorry but the AFP article is just wrong. You can see here from actual science that global warming is likely contributing to new weather extremes.

    In a nutshell, the atmosphere’s warer carrying capacity has increased along with global temperatures. More water vapor means more intense storms, so as the planet warms extreme weather events become more commonplace.

    1. You can also read an article discussing the study.

      Quote: “Large [rainfall] events are becoming larger,” Zwiers said. His work found that from 1951 to 1999, the probability of heavy downpours becoming even more extreme grew by about 7 percent, a figure he characterized as “really substantial.”

      Heavier downpours occur when the atmosphere carries more water vapor, which means that all weather patterns are affected as anthropogenic global warming intensifies the hydrological cycle.

      1. Also, there’s a 2008 report showing increasing weather extremes since 1970 and linking that increase to growing sea surface temperatures
        http://www.climatescience.gov/…..efault.htm

        From the summary:

      2. Ben Wolf: thanks for the links – I do note that the Post quotes one of the researchers saying, “It’s important to stress there is uncertainty in this work.” In addition, since deluges do not necessarily equal tornados, the expert cited by AFP may know more about trends than climate modelers.

    2. Wow, anon troll, thanks for clearing that up.

      Ben Wolf says it, and has a linky or two – therefore, it MUST be true!

      p’wned, bitches!

    3. The article discusses “extreme precipitation”, not “extreme weather” which encompasses everything: floods, droughts, tornados, hurricanes, cold spells, hot spells, earthquakes…will asteroids be next?

      But it?s a lot scarier than that: global warming causes increased rainfall and flooding in wet areas, increased drought in arid areas, and harsher winters in cold climates.

      As to the merits of the article, the title and first sentence show how agenda-ridden it is.

  28. 2009 was a really low year for tornadoes. Some recent years have been big, some recent years have been small

    Exactly as predicted by the models!

  29. I can not speak for Mr. McKibben, but the science is clear enough, greenhouse gases will induce global warming and climate change. What is not clear is the actual events that are due to this added carbon by humans.
    Too bad we are so focused on the climate and ignore the ocean. If we needed only one reason to curtail our fossil fuel emmisions, especially from coal, is the change in water chemistry. Since industrial age, have turned 30% more acidic on the ph scale. The extra carbon is absorbed by the water and we have this change. If this continues, and it will if we do not cut back, the waters will not have this ph since millions of years ago.
    Studies prove that hard shell creatures will be unable to form shells and coral reefsform themselves.
    If we needed proof and a reason to curtail emissions this alone would be enough.
    Deniers take note.

    1. Before the oceans can become ‘acidic’ or ‘acidified’ at all, they must first become totally unbased. Do any of you understand that? The ‘acidification’ you talk about is the debatable)move towards 0ph. The oceans have to get to 0ph before they can acidify at all.

      1. Huh?

  30. These outbreaks ARE related. We are in a La Nina (the opposite of El Nino) period. It’s also the reason for all of the rain. It’s not that big of a mystery.

  31. Obama shut down the weather forecasting satellites that could have warned of the Joplin disaster and saved lives.
    Is Obama a liar or insane?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsf2NvF2gxs

  32. man is causing these tornadoes by doing something to ths sky by airplane or satelites.if you look at the tornadoes mass it just to thick and look as it been control by man real nature tornadoes mass are thin.you can planely see this in the april 2011 video of the alabama tornadoes

    Peoples Beware

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